People stand across the road from a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019.
That was right-wing commentator Candace Owens’ response to news of the mosque massacres in Christchurch, New Zealand, that claimed the lives of 49 people. It was a telling glimpse into the mindset of a radical brand of conservative pundits who traffic in white nationalism and xenophobia and who fuel the fires of hate. Indeed, one of the suspected gunmen in the New Zealand massacre wrote up his so-called manifesto and cited Owens’ work as an inspiration. (Her “LOL” tweet was in reference to being named as inspiration by the gunman.) The killer also singled out Trump for praise.
What we’re witnessing is the spread of global white supremacist terrorism, and conservative media in America functions as a central conduit for the disease. The conservative media both fuels the hate and belittles those who ring alarms about the dangers.
Recall that Owens made headlines earlier this year when she defended Adolf Hitler, suggesting everything he did to transform Germany in the 1930s, prior to its invasion of neighboring countries, had been positive—when in fact that’s when Hitler was stripping citizens of their rights and burying democracy in Germany. She has also “called for the imprisonment of Hillary and Bill Clinton, former FBI director James Comey, special counsel Robert Mueller and the TV anchors Jake Tapper, Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper, among others,” as NBC reported. And note that Owens recently claimed that concern over rising white nationalism is “stupid.”
The dangers are now of paramount concern. Radical, openly hateful rhetoric that at times creeps into the realm of eliminationism has crossed over from the furthest fringes of society and into the so-called mainstream conservative media, where it has been enthusiastically embraced by outlets such as Fox News and Breitbart. Proudly waving its ethnonationalist flags and embracing racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia, the conservative press no longer thinks twice about the dangerous sewer content it produces on an hourly basis, even knowing there are dangerous killers out there—like the one in New Zealand—who feed off the hate.
And the highest echelons of the Republican Party have embraced that radical speech. As the New Zealand gun massacre was playing out in real time Thursday night (U.S. time), Trump actually linked to an article from Breitbart, a site with well-known white nationalist ties whose commenters cheered on the mosque massacres. (Trump soon deleted his tweet.)
That’s just one small example of a larger, sinister trend of the GOP welcoming hate merchants into their tent and gleefully advanced their agenda.